The Zero Emissions Vehicle Remains a Myth

Empty electric charging stationsCredit: Walter Baxter, CCAfter the introduction of the mass-market hybrid in the late 1990s, mainstream America began a discussion about car exhaust that today has evolved into an all-out quest for “zero emissions” transportation. That pursuit is impossible.

As Bjorn Lomborg deftly explains in an op-ed for today’s Wall Street Journal, even newfangled electric cars leave a rather substantial carbon footprint:

If a typical electric car is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the car will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles. Similarly, if the energy used to recharge the electric car comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will be responsible for the emission of almost 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every one of the 50,000 miles it is driven—three ounces more than a similar gas-powered car.

Not only that, but America’s electric grid may not be up to the challenge of supporting just one electric plug-in vehicle per family (and most families own more than two cars). From Scientific American:

Adding a plug-in car to the grid is equal to about a third of a house, Kjaer said. And because early adopters are likely to spring up in geographic concentrations, that could mean overloaded transformers at the distribution level or plug-in cars potentially causing power outages.

At least some of the trendier models will make you look good when you stand next to them in your driveway.

Even creative solutions like the electric Honda FCX Clarity (Top Gear called it “the most important car for 100 years”), which uses a hydrogen fuel cell as a power-source, has its share of challenges to go along with its benefits.

Just because you have water vapor coming out of your tailpipe—if you even have a tailpipe—doesn’t mean that you have zero emissions. It takes energy to create usable hydrogen or charge batteries, and the bulk of our energy is still generated by fossil fuels which create greenhouse gases. This means that discussions about which vehicles produce more carbon dioxide on the road ignore a big source of emissions.

In other words: pretty much all of these tax incentives for hybrid and electric cars are way too generous.

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  • ||

    Second Law, how does that work?

  • Aresen||

    Entropically.

  • ||

    Everyone knows that thermodynamics is a corporate conspiracy to put money in the pockets of the oil companies.

  • Aresen||

    CKarnot was part of the Kochtopus!

  • ||

    I feel othered by that.

  • Aresen||

    Isn't this just one more example of people refusing to look beyond the immediately visible?

  • R C Dean||

    Here's the deal about hydrogen as a fuel "source".

    Its not. It has to be manufactured, typically by cracking water. It is, at best, a fairly inefficient way of storing and transporting energy.

  • Aresen||

    Even Unicorn farts won't be zero emission.

  • John Walters||

  • Agammamon||

    Well, technically so are fossil fuels. And the production cycle for those is horribly inefficient timewise.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Except fossil fuels are storing energy humans would not be able to capture in other ways. Hydrogen is just moving generated electric power to chemical (ideally from solar, hydro or nuclear but more likely coal) with the losses that entails. It is energy storage, not an energy source.

  • Professional Target||

    That's what I was explaining to a friend about graphene supercapacitors. It's not a power source, but a storage system.

  • Zeb||

    It seems to me that the best thing that can be said about hydrogen as a fuel for cars is that it has the potential to be a much more efficient way to store energy than batteries. Which could be a very good thing if people figure out some better ways to generate electricity.

  • Canman||

    Here's everything you need to now about hydrogen:
    http://www.caranddriver.com/co.....d-hydrogen

  • CatoTheElder||

    In the real world, hydrogen is not typically produced by cracking water. About 78% is produced by steam-reforming or partial oxidation of natural gas and oil, about 18% is produced by coal gasification, and about 4% is produced by electrolysis of water. Other sources of H2 are negligible.

    The vast majority of hydrogen produced in the world turns a reasonably good transportation fuel (natural gas) or very good transportation fuel blend material (naphtha) into a really expensive transportation fuel.

    It's all downside and no tangible upside. First, the partial oxidation and steam-reforming technologies are energy intensive, and inherently emit CO2. All carbon in the hydrocarbon feedstock is ultimately converted to CO2, either as fuel for the conversion process or as CO for combustion elsewhere. Second, substantial energy must be spent to purify the H2: more CO2 emissions. Third, a significant fraction of the H2 is lost in purification, only to be combusted as plant fuel. Forth, substantial energy must be consumed to compress the H2 product, to store the H2 product, and to deliver it to motorists. Then there's the cost of a fuel cell system and the infrastructure cost of the distribution system.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But they run down blind people who are usually poor, and what libertarian could be against that?

  • NeonCat||

    If blind people would just hire sighted people to see for them we'd dramatically reduce unemployment.

    Blind people should really stop being so selfish.

  • Agammamon||

    "Just because you have water vapor coming out of your tailpipe—if you even have a tailpipe—doesn’t mean that you have zero emissions."

    Even worse - water vapor is a greenhouse gas.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Water is by far the most significant greenhouse gas!

    However, the water vapor coming out of tailpipes is an insignificant source of atmospheric water vapor.

  • ||

    It won't be a myth once I find investors to fund my Hummer covered in solar panels business.

  • Jerryskids||

    Why look for investors? Get a government grant to fund your project. That's not just *free* money, government money actually improves the economy $2 for every $1 invested. Perpetual motion ain't got nothin' on government spending.

  • ||

    What exactly did you think I meant by investors. We all know the only real investment is government spending. Capitalism only rewards profit, not risk!

  • Agammamon||

    On the other hand - I know how to make your car 0-emissions.

    Take your hydrogen powered car, keep the water exhaust, have a big wind turbine on the car.

    Then when you run out of hydrogen (all converted to water) you let the car sit while the wind turbine generates the electricity to crack the H2O back into H2 and O.

    Of course you may only be able to drive the car 10 miles a *week* but that's a small price to pay for saving the planet.

    In any case, high density mixed use zoning and light rail will eliminate the need for almost all car trips anyway.

  • Zeb||

    Throw some solar panels on there as well and, given a bit of good weather, you might get up to 15 miles per week.

  • Aresen||

    Use the wind turbine directly.

    You could probably get 300 miles per week.

    Of course, being becalmed on the freeway could be embarrassing....

  • Pro Libertate||

    Why not replace all roads with canals? Then replace cars with sailboats.

    That, or my other idea about making all roads on steep inclines in both directions.

  • Aresen||

    If you had canals, you could just harness the unicorns to the canal cars.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Look, canals can be done. They have them in Venice and in China. And the mammoth canal-digging program would result in millions of new American jobs.

    It's not as perfect a solution in Canada, I'll grant, since your canals would freeze up, what, eleven months a year? So maybe giant wood-burning heaters? Or horse-drawn carriages on skates?

  • Hugh Akston||

    That's retarded ProLib, who's going to teach horses how to ice skate?

  • Agammamon||

    No - they'll use polar bears. Polar bears live in the ice and so naturally know how to ice skate.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You unfairly malign Canadian inventiveness and the native intelligence of the horse.

    Besides, that's their problem. It would work in most of the U.S.

  • Agammamon||

    Well, it definately wouldn't work in Australia - you need cars powered by the black gold to outrun the bandit gangs and koalas.

    And the venomous reptiles, insects, *birds*.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Whatever do you mean? Australia is surrounded by water. Just let it flow over the land.

  • Agammamon||

    Are you sure you're not thinking of Austria?

  • Aresen||

    No. Austria runs on Trapp power.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The hills are alive, with the energy of music.

    Singing nuns--the greatest concentration of power in the universe.

  • Ted S.||

    The Singing Nun was Belgian, not Austrian. :-p

  • ||

    The solution is to combine wind and solar power. The car is powered by solar during the day, so you drive and this pushes the turbine through the wind, which powers up your battery so that you can drive at night.

    You can also point a solar powered fan at a wind turbine and get endless energy.

  • Xenocles||

    You can also point a solar powered fan at a wind turbine and get endless energy.

    That only works as an energy doubler, duh.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "Of course you may only be able to drive the car 10 miles a *week*..."

    The 1st week, after that it wil be zero emissions 'cause it won't go.

  • Agammamon||

    I want ot find one of those electric charging stations and park my jeep Grand Cherokeee in one of those spots.

  • GILMORE||

    NEEDS MORE HUMMER

    I think it would be more funny to hook an old coal-burning boiler (like a railroad steam engine) to them, and have 2 grimy, sweat covered laborers shoveling coal into the furnace... they could ask for tips from the Volt drivers. 'aw, come'on guvnah! spare a shilling for me pains! I've been a'charging cars a week without a break!"

  • Agammamon||

    That would be awesome - guy shoveling coal into the boiler in the back, a guy operating the engine, and me up front with my monacle and top hat being served tea by my manservant.

    Its even green enough to be able to use the carpool lane. And JOBZ!

  • Ted S.||

    You should be served tea by child labor, thank you very much.

  • Generic Stranger||

    I've done that, with my Explorer. :-)

  • Generic Stranger||

    No!! The server squirrelz ate my devil horns. :-(

  • GILMORE||

    "" if the energy used to recharge the electric car comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will be responsible for the emission of almost 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every one of the 50,000 miles it is driven—three ounces more than a similar gas-powered car...""

    "DERP but thats why we need to END TEH CHEAP ELECTRICITY!! NEEDS SOLAR TO POWER THE ELECTRIC CARS!!! which makes electricity so expensive no one will want to drive anymore! which will force people to live on farms and grow their own Organic Food! Which will result in millions starving and modern capitalism to collapse, resulting in a small, desperate population dependent on The State's largesse! which is really the endgame anyway! Eliminate capitalism and freedom!"

  • Leigh||

    And then when it all collapses, blame on the free market!

  • Pro Libertate||

    If they were serious about the environment, they'd be screaming for technological advances, like nuclear fission and fusion.

  • GILMORE||

    Pro Libertate| 3.11.13 @ 5:08PM |#

    If they were serious about the environment, they'd be screaming for technological advances, like nuclear fission and fusion.

    "DERP but NO!! Thats how CORPORASHUNS create "artificially" cheap energy and TAKE THE PROFITS which DUH! makes RICH PEOPLE RICHER! which just means there's less for TEH POOR who THINK they're BETTER OFF BECAUSE THEY CAN AFFORD XBOXES AND CELL PHONES AND COMPUTERS but in reality they're JUST BEING SUCKED INTO THE CORPORATIONS GAME where they work SHITTY JOBS just to PAY THE CORPORATIONS for the CHEAP STUFF which is all DESTROYING TEH ENVIRONMENT FASTER AND FASTER!! Thats why we need to BAN FRACKING!! THE STATE MUST INTERVENE to end the cycle of CAPITALIST EXPLOITATION OF TEH POOR AND TEH EARTHS!!! Only by MAKING ELECTRICITY so EXPENSIVE that no one can afford to do shit can we REDUCE OUR FOOTPRINT (aka Make Capitalism HURT!!)""

    (cough)

    the sad part is that this is in fact the *more* sophisticated version of how most of these Greentards think.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You're undoubtedly correct. I heard someone say recently that the tsunami in Japan was the Earth Mother beginning her rampage against unenlightened humanity.

    Me, I think if fusion is good enough for the sun, it's good enough for me.

  • Agammamon||

    yeah but the sun is doing that elitist proton/proton fusion thing that you can only afford if you're mass rich.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's true, Earth is a have-not in the mass category, lacking the mass to initiate its own fusion. Why are we discriminated against?

  • GILMORE||

    Why are we discriminated against?

    MEGADERP DUH!! CAUSE SUN IS WHITE AND EARTH IS COLORED. FUSION IS RACIST

  • Pro Libertate||

    I've never considered it that way before. Perhaps that's why the Moon gets in the way on occasion.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    That pursuit is impossible.

    No

    fucking

    shit.

  • JW||

    It's really pathetic the way the car mags are drooling over the Tesla S. They really have drank the Elon Kool-Aid™.

    I get it. It's a very nice looking car, very Aston-esqe. I've seen one on the street and can attest to the beauty of one. And yes, it screams and can probably beat just about any exotic on the street. But, the lengths that sympathetic reviewers are going to in order top make the car seem relevant (Car of the Year? Are you fucking kidding me?) is slobberingly shocking (no pun)

    The dog and pony show that the enthusiasts put on is just embarrassing. Can you drive it cross-country or up from DC to Boston? Sure. It will just take substantially longer, since you have limited range and you'll be waiting a minimum of 30 minutes to fill up, usually longer. Meanwhile, my dirty, gaia-raping car will be out of the gas station in 5-10 minutes and has twice the range.

    Pretty it up as much as you want. It's still a fucking hair shirt.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's just so bizarre that the company is run by the same guy who runs SpaceX.

  • JW||

    If it were just his own money, I wouldn't care, beyond mocking his well-to-do customers with more money than brains.

    But, he's doing it with hundreds of millions of tax dollars, so fuck him.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I agree completely.

  • Mickey Rat||

    He's selling both to the Pakleds (i.e. politicians).

  • NeonCat||

    I've seen a Tesla S in person. I thought it was a Kia at first, no slight on Kia. It took me a minute to work out what it was since I hadn't seen any photos of it.

  • ||

    I see more Lamborghinis on the street in Seattle than I see Teslas, and the Tesla dealership is right near me.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Yeah but to be fair, most of those Lamborghinis are being driven by dunphy on his way from the children's hospital to the supercollider.

  • ||

    "Supercollider? I just met her. And then they built the supercollider. Thanks, you've been a great audience."

  • Hugh Akston||

    ANECDOTE ACCEPTED. SNAPPY COMEBACK NOT FOUND.

  • GILMORE||

    Pretty it up as much as you want. It's still a fucking hair shirt

    Yes, but you see... a hairshirt that you can show off to your other Rich Progressive friends! MORAL NARCISSISM THAT MOVES!!

  • Agammamon||

    I see the same thing for electric motorcylces - lot's of oohing and aahing over torque curves and low noise and then, buried in the article, the fact that the range allows about an hour of use before needing 6+ hours of charging.

  • JW||

    Yep. There's no denying the torque curve of electric motors, but until the energy storage is worked out, it's just a limp-dicked status symbol.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    it's just a limp-dicked status symbol.

    My cock is 10" and as big around as an overgrown zucchini, but I can't get hard.

  • JW||

    "Dear Penthouse Forum, I thought it would never happen to me..."

  • DblEagle||

    I went to the Moto-GP at Laguna Seca for the last several years one of the preliminary races is for electric bikes. The damn things couldn't hold a charge for the length of a short race. Bikes were strung out along the course and the leader lost when his bike crapped out coming down the corkscrew on the last lap. The announcers were "Battery management is crucial in these races." I was WTF? Electric vehicles are for kiddie carts and progressives who couldn't pass Geology 1A in college.

  • ||

    Silent cars are going to result in a lot more roadkill. Peta is going to have a shitfit if these things ever get off of the ground.

  • Aresen||

    PETA is invited to stand in front of the skunk on the road to protect it from my silent fusion powered Hummer.

  • Agammamon||

    Nah -there'll be *less* roadkill.

    The damn sqirrels and deer won't be able to hear the cars coming and be able to time their jumping from the woods in front of your car properly.

    Homocidal bastards - I saw the GEICO documantary.

  • ||

    Arent the Teslas around 100k?

    I remember hearing about a guy who test drove one on a long road trip and it was a disaster. I think Tesla sued him to try and keep his mouth shut.

    I may not remember that right, and I am too lazy to google. I was initially impressed with the Tesla, but after hearing that guys review I just put it out of my mind.

    Hair shirt indeed.

  • Bill Door||

    The British (Limey?) Top Gear reviewed one and ran it around their track only to have the battery crap out on them pretty quickly and had to push it back to charge it (no easy feat, I guess). The put it through the ringer, then Tesla tried suing them for defamation or something... I don't know how the deal ended, I just know it made Tesla look like sue happy pricks.

  • Shocked||

    The car mags are probably getting incentives for all their drooling articles.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I don't think the idiots pushing for electric vehicles realize that if they got their wish and a bunch of people ended up driving these things, that eventually .gov would have to take its pound of flesh for road maintenance. They might not be spending anything on gas, but I can see everyone from the municipal to the federal transportation departments doing stuff like monthly road taxes and things like that.

    It would be like how they do with phones, both land line and cellular--the company might only charge you $35-50 for the line, but you end up paying another $15-20 in taxes and fees.

  • Aresen||

    You are talking second-order consequences, which are totally beyond the conceptual horizon of big government types.

  • Agammamon||

    Not just road taxes - gps receivers in the cars to monitor not just the amount of distance traveled but which roads (variable pricing yo).

    Of course this info will no longer be private since you've already (mandatorily) shared it with one government agency so all of them will have access to it.

    The idea that government agencies *should* have firewalls between them and shouldn't share every bit of info they collect is completely foreign.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I don't think the idiots pushing for electric vehicles realize that if they got their wish and a bunch of people ended up driving these things, that eventually .gov would have to take its pound of flesh for road maintenance. They might not be spending anything on gas, but I can see everyone from the municipal to the federal transportation departments doing stuff like monthly road taxes and things like that.

    Mandatory black boxes which track your movements so that they know exactly how far you have traveled and charge a per mile tax, settled on your income tax bill.

    For the environment, of course.

  • DblEagle||

    I just imagine the Jersey Turnpike on a holiday weekend. Where are all the people going to wait patiently while it take 30-45 minutes to charge each car traveling between NYC and DC? The rest stops are already crazy on weekends when it only takes 5-10 minutes to have them pump your gas-no self serve there by god.

  • NeonCat||

    Just to be clear, it was James May of Top Gear who said that. Clarkson and Hammond might or might not agree.

  • Agammamon||

    I know Clarkson doesn't - Hammond probably likes the way it looks.

    I think May gives it positive review because it is a sort of technical triumph.

  • OldMexican||

    This means that discussions about which vehicles produce more carbon dioxide on the road ignore a big source of emissions.


    Which is why the environmentalists want this for us.

    Human progress is icky.

  • Agammamon||

    Apparently I don't have permission to access http://image1.masterfile.com/e.....96097w.jpg on this server.

  • crashland||

    Not just progress but humans are icky.

    We cut down trees to make houses, eat meat which farts before we murder it, we are a plague upon mother earth. We should just go an kill ourselves so the earth can be returned to all of the other species who don't mess up the place.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    And yes, it screams and can probably beat just about any exotic on the street.

    Except if "race distance" is 200 miles, it will get its doors blown off by a 850cc Mini.

  • Agammamon||

    Gets its doors blown off by a 1992 Geo Metro.

  • JW||

    I think an old Pinto could beat it, under that condition.

    The Tesla S is the car for you, if your time is worth nothing.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    he's doing it with hundreds of millions of tax dollars, so fuck him.

    Exactly. Musk is not some hero of the free market.

  • Pro Libertate||

    No, he isn't. To the extent that SpaceX is helping to further a less government-dominated method of getting to space, I think that's more from it breaking the monopoly of the traditional commercial players in spaceflight (and in pursuing a much lower cost structure) than in any anti-government mindset. And, to be sure, their biggest client remains the U.S. government.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    That's still an improvement, because at least there will eventually be space products offered on the open market.

    As problematic as it can be, crony crapitalism still beats government run.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm all for SpaceX and am excited about what it's doing. I just don't have any illusions that its sole intent is to free us all from the government monopoly.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I think this chart explains it best:

    Where Liberals Think Electricity Comes From

    Anyway, this is the only reason anybody buys an EV or hybrid.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What's a hampster?

  • Aresen||

    They live in the Hamptons.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Ah, I see. Thanks.

  • OldMexican||

    I thought this was the reason.

  • Tony||

    Impossible? And libertarians usually dream so big!

    If a typical electric car is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the car will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles.

    Which is another way of saying after 50,000 miles (surely much less than half the actual lifespan of a modern car), hybrid cars start to make up the difference. See here. "But do the environmental impacts of hybrid vehicle production outweigh the long-term benefits of driving a cleaner running automobile? That answer is a resounding 'no.' If you drive both a conventional and hybrid car for 160,000 miles (257,495 kilometers), the conventional vehicle requires far more energy to operate and emits far more greenhouse gases over its lifetime, significantly canceling out any imbalance during the production stage."

    The solution to the emissions produced from burning coal is, of course, to find alternatives to burning coal.

  • ||

    You would have to replace the battery in your hybrid car before 160,000 miles, the typical warranty is for 100,000 miles.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Isn't the article discussed here about electrics, anyway?

    I'm certainly not opposed to something more advanced than burning fossil fuels, but it's not like we can flip a switch and magically go to electric or anything else without consequences.

    If we had a robust nuclear or some other clean energy infrastructure, along with the technology (particularly concerning vehicle range) and the ability to deliver quick-charges as ubiquitously as gas, well, then electric would make sense.

    As it is, I like the idea of electric cars because they allow us to be more flexible about the energy source. But the execution has a ways to go.

    Hybrids seem a little more feasible, though that's still an expensive option.

  • Paul.||

    Hybrids seem a little more feasible, though that's still an expensive option.

    In 100 years, Hybrids will be looked at as a head-scratcher curiosity. People will be all like, "What, you had a car with a gas engine, and batteries, but the gas engine charged the batteries at a 30% efficiency loss... and... why didn't they just put a bigger gas engine in it?"

  • Aresen||

    Once telepresence gets up to the Matrix level, you won't need cars. Of course, I wonder what that level of telepresence would do to our species (even absent malevolent computers.)

  • Tony||

    You're right, the article I linked to was about hybrids not electrics.

    But why all the pessimism about the ability to develop technology in this and only this field? Electric cars and clean electricity generation are hardly science fiction dreams; they are perfectly feasible given our current imagination and understanding. All it really will take is resources directed toward it and away from dirty energy.

  • ||

    You're whining over a red herring. The article you are commenting on is about a myth: that today's electric cars are zero-emissions. The title isn't "The Zero Emissions Vehicle is Impossible," it's "The Zero Emissions Vehicle Remains a Myth." What part of that don't you agree with?

  • Agammamon||

    You keep using that word *feasible*, I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Tony||

    Sign of a world-class mind, still quoting that fucking movie.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Fezzik understands economics better than you do.

  • Paul.||

    The solution to the emissions produced from burning coal is, of course, to find alternatives to burning coal.

    Which is always such an easy, pat solution when you have zero scientific knowledge about just how energy dense fossil fuels are.

    If your iPhone could run on wind and solar, it would have a solar cell on the back or a little fan on the top.

  • Nuked||

    The energy density of fossil fuel is absolutely minuscule compared to that which we can extract from the fissioning of atoms.

    The United States is just irrational when it comes to nuclear regulation. We need to rid ourselves of nuclear exceptionalism.

  • ||

    Shit, I will respond to Tony.

    At no point in the life of a hybrid car does the electricity it uses cost less in greenhouse gases than accessing that energy from fossil fuels directly. It never makes up the difference, the difference just keeps getting bigger throughout the life of the car.

    Take a physics class you thieving ignoramus.

  • ||

    Oh, and....

    Alternatives to burning coal. What is your position on fracking again Tony? Pray tell.

  • Tony||

    My position is that we should throw as many resources as we possibly can toward sustainable clean energy and not toward helping oil companies finding more stuff to drill for.

    Libertarians believe there are no limits to human ingenuity if it's set free... except we can never possibly produce enough energy from anything other than fossil fuels so we might as well not even try.

  • Paul.||

    My position is that we should throw as many resources as we possibly can toward sustainable clean energy and not toward helping oil companies finding more stuff to drill for.

    We can't, because that would be terribly inefficient. If we threw "everything we could" towards it, we would end up with the least efficient methods of power generation. Because they wouldn't come naturally, they would be picked by bureaucrats who are worse than random chance at doing that.

    If an alternative method of power production is expensive, it's because there are price inputs that are more than likely making it less efficient.

    If a wind farm can't run on wind power, there's your first indicator that it's inefficient.

    If an ethanol plant making fuel from switch grass can't run on ethanol, you've got another input that's costing you money.

    Price signals... never underestimate their importance.

  • Tony||

    People are not the aimlessly bumbling idiots libertarians assume them to be. They can figure stuff out by thinking. They don't need a market to figure it all out for them through random emergence. Some things just need resources directed to them. Science and technology are and always have been among these things. Granted, most such development has taken place in the context of making war, but in theory we could do the same for other purposes.

    There are, after all, significant costs to doing nothing.

  • Paul.||

    Who's "doing nothing"? We are figuring out what's efficient and what's not.

    We know that electrics and hybrids aren't efficient because we need massive subsidies and taxpayer kickbacks to buyers to incentivise their purchase. Without the subsidies, they're considerably more expensive than their traditional counterparts. There's your signal that these are probably using more fossil fuels than they're saving.

    You're deliberately confusing "the market" with Wall Street. When I speak of the market, I'm talking about guys in garages tinkering.

    IN fact, when you talk about throwing resources at things, it is actually you who are talking about Wall Street. Politically connected players on Wall Street are what's consuming all the subsidy dollars to run their failed companies like Solyndra and the dozen other alt-energy companies which have turned out to be, at minimum, unviable visions, and at maximum, outright scams.

  • ||

    "There's your signal that these are probably using more fossil fuels than they're saving."

    Since the majority of the cost of anything is the cost of the energy it takes to produce it, price can be seen as an effective way to gauge the environomental fitness of any given product. Leaving subsidies out of the picture, of course.

  • Agammamon||

    "They can figure stuff out by thinking. They don't need a market to figure it all out for them through random emergence"

    Solyndra

  • Pro Libertate||

    What would drive innovation would be a much-less fettered market for it. There is a market for oil/gas/coal alternatives, after all. And it's not like libertarians aren't technophiles. We're notoriously pro-technology.

  • Tony||

    Don't mention Solyndra if you want me to take you seriously. I don't take people seriously who have outsourced their thinking to Matt Drudge and Sean Hannity. There are plenty of other investments in clean energy that have worked out. Of course the pro-oil right is going to cherry pick any failure and blow it up into the world's biggest scandal. But you can't logically trust the oil fellating right on this issue, can you?

  • Agammamon||

    Wait, waitr - you said we don't need markets. That we can figure out what is the right technology to back by using our brains. We did that and got Solyndra (among others).

    That little example proofs your rule.

    I don't take people seriously who think a handful of experts in Washington can outhink the free-market ona regular basis.

  • Tony||

    So why not use the free market to win wars?

    Planning, a wise man once said, is planning. Your claim that it's always incompetent is absurd, since a lot of planning happens in the marketplace, a lot of it guess work and risk taking. One failed company out of hundreds that received aid and suddenly it's proof of government's incompetence. Does that mean every failed company in the private sphere is proof of the market's incompetence?

  • Greg F||

    People are not the aimlessly bumbling idiots libertarians assume them to be.

    When it comes to energy and the laws of thermodynamics yes they are ... and Tony is the quintessential example of a bumbling idiot.

  • KDN||

    They don't need a market to figure it all out for them through random emergence.

    Your constant inability to comprehend just what "the market" represents remains a source of never ending amusement.

  • Tony||

    The market is the combined economic interactions of human beings, infused with myriad prejudices, manias, and other irrationalities--hence something that should be tempered.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The market is the combined economic interactions of human beings, infused with myriad prejudices, manias, and other irrationalities--hence something that should be tempered.

    Said every managerialist asshole.

  • ||

    "Something that should be tempered"

    So take away the economic interactions of human beings, and all you have left is "myriad prejudices, manias, and other irrationalities"

    Your TOP MEN are no less susceptible to these than any other person.

  • ||

    Tony believes he understand what libertarians believe. Unfortunately, Tony happens to be retarded.

  • ||

    How exactly do we throw money toward oil companies to find more stuff?

    And by throw as many resources as we possibly can toward sustainable energy you mean....solyndra and the like?

  • ||

    I asked you a question sockpuppet.

    Since you are too cowardly to answer, I will answer for you.

    "....and not toward helping oil companies finding more stuff to drill for."

    This is a classic example of how you lie, you mendacious fuck. Oil companies dont receive any help from tax payers. They get to deduct their expenses just like every other fucking business in America. They dont get special breaks, and they dont get checks from uncle sam. You would have people believe they are being handed billions under the table from the government, and they arent.

    You tell these lies that everyone here can see through and you expect what? Credibility? Respect? A fair hearing?

    FUCK YOU FASCIST. Go stick your head in an oven.

  • Agammamon||

    If anything, modern oil companies get screwed by the government. Not got enough supply and so gas prices go up - fuck you that's a congressional hearing. Gas prices go down - fuck you that's bad for the environment and another congressional hearing. Low profits this year, fuck you pay your taxes and royalties anyway. High profits this year, fuck you windfall tax bitches!

  • Tony||

    Oil companies don't get help from government?

    Here's a picture for you.

  • ||

    Who here said oil company subsides are a good thing? No one. All you have is straw men and ad hominem attacks.

  • Tony||

    You don't think whether oil is subsidized is crucial to this conversation? As in--maybe clean tech isn't as economically viable because they're competing with an entrenched, subsidized competing tech? One our whole infrastructure is built around?

    If you're not arguing for subsidies for clean energy then you're endorsing subsidies for oil. You could take away all government help and the legacy of a century of it will mean the market is forever distorted in its favor. That's the problem with making a subsidy-free market. Something's always being subsidized in one way or another, even if its by our entrenched car culture paid for by government.

    And since this is energy--an essential commodity--and since it's necessary to alter the industry in order to avert global environmental catastrophe, then free market magic starts sounding a bit ridiculous as the correct path. The free market might get there eventually, but environmental harm doesn't act as a market incentive, so our only option is to distort the market with a goal of clean energy. Better than the alternatives.

  • Greg F||

    Here's a picture for you.

    A fundamentally dishonest picture at that. The so called 'fossil fuel' subsidies are much smaller per unit of energy than are the 'green' subsidies.

  • Nuked||

    Tony, we have clean energy in the form of nuclear fission. We have had it for 50 years.

    Nuclear exceptionalism is stalled the nuclear industry and is one of the reasons nuclear technology has stalled at the pressurized water reactor. The room for innovation in the nuclear field is incredible. No other energy source has so much potential as nuclear power.

    So of course we regulate it into an industry where everything costs incredible amounts and takes years to do.

  • Tony||

    Fine, but don't tell me nuclear is a product of or is even possible in a free market.

  • Agammamon||

    Uhm, how is it not possible?

  • Tony||

    No one would ever take the risk to build a nuclear plant without government guarantees of limited liability.

  • ||

    Just like no one would sell flood insurance!

  • CatoTheElder||

    Then throw your resources at whatever you think is "sustainable clean energy".

    Humans are indeed ingenious: human ingenuity developed hydraulic fraccing in response to the demand for hydrocarbons. Human ingenuity even overcame the roadblocks imposed by bureaucrats and environmental extremists against fraccing.

    It's not impossible that that novel wind, solar, and other unconventional energy sources can be successfully developed for peaceful purposes. It's just doubtful that government will have much to do with it.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "Similarly, if the energy used to recharge the electric car comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will be responsible for the emission of almost 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every one of the 50,000 miles it is driven—three ounces more than a similar gas-powered car."

    Er, no. The electric car starts out at a large deficit, never recovers and continues to pile more deficit on top.

  • Paul.||

    if you even have a tailpipe—doesn’t mean that you have zero emissions. It takes energy to create usable hydrogen or charge batteries, and the bulk of our energy is still generated by fossil fuels which create greenhouse gases. This means that discussions about

    The default response is, "That's why everything should be wind and solar... why do you hate corporate welfare subsidies, tea fucker?"

    By the way, what's that solar company Shrike was pitching from his boiler room? I try to watch the stocks he says George Soros buys.

  • ||

    Oh look, there is Tony. I didnt read your post shithead. What lies are you telling today?

  • ||

    I dont know how I did that Paul. My previous post was supposed to be directed at Tony. My apologies.

  • Paul.||

    But mine was supposed to be a Shrike/Tony hybrid post. You have done well, sir.

  • ||

    I currently have a zero-emissions jeep. It is sitting in my driveway with the engine off and it is not moving.

    Ultimately that is what the progs want for all of us, all of the time. Well, except for themselves of course.

  • Paul.||

    Those environmental summits don't fly themselves around the globe...

  • sarcasmic||

    Practical electric cars have been just over the horizon for over a century, and until someone invents batteries that store more energy per pound than petroleum, that's where they will stay. Just over the horizon. Just one government research grant away. Just one more. One more. Just one. Just one fix

    Of course that won't stop the Tonys of the world from believing that government magic can somehow repeal the laws of physics.

  • Tony||

    The laws of physics don't say humanity has no alternative to fossil fuels. Fossil fuel industries might like you to think that, but there's absolutely no reason to think that we can't have advanced enough solar technology to meet our needs. We're already well on our way.

    What the laws of physics do imply is that the finite fossil fuel resources on this planet will eventually be used up, sooner rather than later given the pace of global development. So what's your answer to that? Burn it all, have a party, then kill ourselves?

  • Paul.||

    "Direct sunlight has a luminous efficacy of about 93 lumens per watt of radiant flux. ... level from the sun at the zenith is 1004 watts per square meter"

    What that means, in real terms, Tony is that if you could build a magic solar panel that was absolutely, positively 100% efficient, you will draw 1004 watts per meter. So to run a 1000watt hair dryer, you would need a 1 meter square magic solar panel. Now imagine for a moment running the entire country on solar.

    Now the reason I call this solar panel magic is because there probably is no technology in our lifetime, or the next ten generations which will be able to draw all the wattage from the entire sunlight spectrum (which includes gamma rays, infrared, blah blah blah) at 100%.

    They're working on something that will pick up the infrared, but we're still dabbling in solar panels which are running in the tens of watts per meter.

  • Aresen||

    100% efficiency is not going to happen, even theoretically.

    To get to 100% efficiency, you need the high entropy state to be at absolute zero. If you can do that without massive refrigeration, then you've got a perpetual motion machine.

  • Paul.||

    Ed Zachary. But I like to put terms in the rosiest of conditions, that way I can say that even if you could reach this mythical alt-universe of perfection, you won't be able to run your 1200 watt hairdryer.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm sorry. It's a combination of the laws of physics and the laws of economics.

    We're already well on our way.

    Yeah. Just over the horizon. Perpetually just over the horizon.

    finite fossil fuel resources on this planet will eventually be used up

    As usual your ignorance of economics is on full display. We will never run out of fossil fuels. They may at some point become economically impractical, but they will never be used up. Not that that is something you would comprehend because that requires understanding the price system.

  • ||

    "Perpetually just over the horizon."

    Hey, solar is the energy of the future! And, it always will be.

  • Proprietist||

    Tony, if you understood a modicum of economics 101, you'd comprehend that when fossil fuel supplies start to get low, prices will go up. When prices go up, alternative forms of energy become more cost-effective and will be adopted.

    This is assuming they can't naturally get a technology to compete priced competitively before we hit that point - which would be great if possible. Chevy Volts are not priced competitively even with the backing of millions of federal dollars. Oh, and the electricity they recharge with is most likely fossil fuels. But you knew that, right?

  • Tony||

    And there are plenty of proposals that work within that market framework. A carbon tax is essentially a pro-market solution. Perfectly justifiable since polluting energy has been supported by direct government dollars and other means for a century.

    That's if you consider it a problem that we're burning a finite resource and destroying the planet in the process.

  • sarcasmic||

    No resource is finite.

    There will always be fossil fuels.

    They will never be all used up.

    At some point it will be more expensive to extract them than to use some other form of energy, like solar or hydro or unicorn farts, but the oil and coal will still be there.

    This again highlights your feeble comprehension of the most basic principles of economics.

    Your ignorance is so powerful it can only be willful.

  • Tony||

    If it can be so that it's no longer economically feasible to extract it, it's finite.

    I could build a replicator from Star Trek and make more oil, but that wouldn't be economically feasible at present. It probably exists on other planets. Still technically present (though of course not infinite), but not economically feasible to get.

    Your absolute fixation on semantics suggests you can't think on higher levels.

  • Greg F||

    If it can be so that it's no longer economically feasible to extract it, it's finite.

    Wind and solar have never been "economically feasible to extract". So does that make them finite?

  • sarcasmic||

    Your absolute fixation on semantics suggests you can't think on higher levels.

    Your absolute ignorance of semantics suggests you can't think at all.

  • Tony||

    Not to mention it's actually fucking finite.

  • Greg F||

    Not to mention it's actually fucking finite.

    Perhaps Tony could enlighten us to anything in the universe that is not finite.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Perhaps Tony could enlighten us to anything in the universe that is not finite.

    His mendaciousness and inability to read a government budget.

  • Tony||

    Perhaps you could explain why we should consider the sun more finite than fossil fuels.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Perhaps you could explain why we should consider solar more energy-intensive than fossil fuels.

    Somehow you seem to think the laws of thermodynamics don't apply here, just because you see Mr. Sun shining every day. Not to mention the rather small issue of the material location and extraction process required to produce these solar panels in the first place.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    The laws of physics don't say humanity has no alternative to fossil fuels.


    That much is true. What the laws of physics say is that those alternatives suck when it comes to energy density, which is why alternatives have to be subsidized.

    but there's absolutely no reason to think that we can't have advanced enough solar technology to meet our needs.


    Only the Sith talk in absolutes. There IS a reason why we can't have advanced solar technology to meet our needs, and it is that solar light is too dispersed to be tapped with any reasonable degree of efficiency to compete with fossil fuels.

    What the laws of physics do imply is that the finite fossil fuel resources on this planet will eventually be used up


    You should take a Physics class, Tony. Physics cannot say such a thing, because what becomes a resource resides only in the minds of humans and thus only economics get to say how much is there of it.

    So what's your answer to that? Burn it all, have a party, then kill ourselves?


    Your sudden preoccupation with the quantity of fossil fuels is touching. It almost makes me forget about your crying for new solar power technologies not more than 2 paragraphs ago...

  • Nuked||

    Nuclear power. It exists and is in unlimited supply between the vast sources of uranium and thorium.

    Wind and solar are a pipe dream. I would hazard to say that the biggest backers of wind and solar is the fossil fuel industry. What do you think backs up the wind mill when 80% of the time it isn't producing power? Natural gas. What do you think Germany is building to offset the baseload power loss due to the shutting down of their nukes? Coal.

  • SumpTump||

    Wow thats kinda crazy when you think about it man.

    www.EliteAnon.tk

  • OldMexican||

    This is why you can't educate Tony:

    They [people] can figure stuff out by thinking. They don't need a market to figure it all out for them through random emergence.


    You see, people can read minds, so people do not need to discover prices (individual preferences in the aggregate) through a market system.

    Which is why the Soviet Union still exists and North Korea is a land of plenty. Why, one can think a price and it should be so!

  • Gibsmedat||

    And Cuba is a Caribbean paradise. I'm so tired of these fucking idiots.

  • Tony||

    Because I definitely endorse authoritarian communism!

  • ||

    Just not by name.

  • Tony||

    Everyone here and everyone in politics believes in a democratic government and a mixed economy. The only disagreement is over the composition of the mix.

  • ||

    Out of all the claims you make, that was probably one of the stupidest I've ever seen.

  • Agammamon||

    How do you get any other kind?

  • JakeJ||

    Not that I expect this to matter, but the "Journal of Industrial Ecology" article that Lomborg used contained several major errors that invalidate its thesis and Lomborg's commentary.

    1. When calculating the materials used in manufacturing an electric vehicle, the JIE authors used an industrial-sized motor roughly 20 times as big as what's in a typical EV. They also used a much heavier inverter, which is the piece that converts the battery's power to a form the motor can use. These are not trivial errors.

    2. When calculating the amount of emissions from electric vehicles, the authors used the emissions from Europe's electric energy mix, which is about half dirty coal. The U.S. generates almost two-thirds of its electricity from natural gas, a major shift from coal that's still taking place. Natural gas emits half the carbon that American coal does, and American coal is of a "harder" variety that emits less carbon than European coal, which is "softer."

    3. The JIE authors ignored a key fact about the production of gasoline and diesel fuel: Each gallon requires about 4.8 kWh of electricity from outside of the refinery feedstock. If this fact is included in the analysis of EVs, not only is their comparative fuel economy much higher than generally realized, but so is their emissions advantage.

    These are facts, and this website is named "Reason," so I thought I'd take a stab at posting them here.

  • Tony||

    Whether those facts are welcome depends on whether they support the hypothesis that a laissez-faire market is the best type of market.

    Thanks, I do believe I will have another drink.

  • ||

    Of course, Tony, you would never choose a side based on political bias instead of science. That's why you immediately agreed with the unsupported "facts" presented by an anonymous commenter over an extensively researched paper by industrial engineers. So next time someone argues that global warming doesn't exist, I expect you to agree. Fucking hypocrite.

  • Tony||

    Nevertheless.

  • ||

    Nevertheless, you always manage to find a way to make yourself even more stupid whenever I think you've hit rock bottom retard.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Again.

  • CatoTheElder||

    The problem is the "facts" are BULLSHIT.

    See below.

  • Greg F||

    So Jake do you have a link to support these so called "facts"?

  • ||

    Interesting how none of these "facts" show up in this public audit of the study: http://www.guardian.co.uk/envi.....nvironment

    Methinks Tony just made a fool of himself.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Again.

  • CatoTheElder||

    I call BULLSHIT on alleged fact #3. The real value is around 6.84 kWh/barrel in the US. There are 42 gallons in a barrel, so it actually works out to 0.16 kWh/gallon. The "fact" cited is only off by a factor of 29.

    http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy.....sec3_5.pdf Table 3.2
    Refinery Net Production = 18496 Mbbl/day

    http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/r.....fcap12.pdf Table 10a
    Purchased Electricity = 46195 million kWh

    46195x10^6/(18496x10^3 x 365) = 6.84 kWh/bbl

    Those are real facts from the DOE's Energy Information Agency. The sort of facts that JakeJ is unfamiliar with.

  • JakeJ||

    I have attempted several times to post links to answer the challenges, but those posts are not showing up.

  • CatoTheElder||

    I call BULLSHIT

  • CatoTheElder||

    I call BULLSHIT on JakeJ's alleged "fact" #2 ("Europe's electric energy mix, which is about half dirty coal." and US is two-thirds natural gas.)

    http://www.eia.gov/electricity.....t=epmt_1_1

    Table 1.1 for the USA (2011)
    Total 4054485 GHh
    Coal 1517203 GWh 37%
    Natural Gas 1230708 GWh 30%

    http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-.....fuel-eu-27

    From graph for EU27 nations (2009)
    Oil 4.2%
    Coal and lignite 28.4%
    Natural gas 21.0%
    Nuclear 30.2%
    Renewables 14.0%
    Other 2.2%

    JakeJ is entitled to his opinions, but he needs to provide citations for his facts. After all, this is the "Reason" website.

  • JakeJ||

    I've tried three times now to post a detailed response with links, but it doesn't show up.

  • John Walters||

    I actually was looking to read that study. Do you have a link? If you read this and wouldn't mind emailing me, that would be much appreciated. Thanks.

  • JakeJ||

    It's good to be challenged on all of this. It reminds me that I ought to get the links together first, and double check. So rather than spitting back, I'm going to work on collecting everything.

    I can say this much right now:

    1. It looks like the JIE's overestimate of the materials in EVs was big, but maybe not as big as I originally thought.

    2. It looks like it's not 4.8 kWh of electricity per gallon of gasoline, but maybe 6 kWh per gallon.

    3. I definitely misstated the U.S. energy mix. It's getting down toward one-third coal, but it was a dumb mistake on my part to attribute the rest to natural gas.

    4. I have to re-check the JIE's assumptions about the European energy mix. I recall (maybe wrongly) that even the authors acknowledged an issue on that one.

    But I've been asked for citations, which is a reasonable request. It'll take me a while to get them.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Your purchased electricity number is way off.

  • John Walters||

    When you do gather them, please email me.

    jwalters[at]reason[dot]com

    Thinking of writing more on this topic.

  • DrAwkward||

    Electric cars produce more greenhouse gasses than internal combustion.
    Recycling by and large wastes resources.
    Corn ethanol is worse in every way than gasoline.
    "Buy local" wastes human, land and energy resources.

    I could go on, but it is clear to me such programs will never go away no matter how clearly destructive they are to the planet.

    You see, Gaia will take notice of how pure our motives are, how we REALLY CARE about her, and will spare us based on what's in our hearts. She knows nobody is perfect and will take our intentions into account!

    I am convinced this is the unconscious, quasi-religious 'logic' perpetuating these fads.

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